Wednesday, August 22

City schools: safe or not?

As Seth noted in his post yesterday on solving the security issue in high schools, the state has added 16 city schools to its list of "persistently dangerous" schools. Schools earn this classification if they report a high number of violent incidents compared to the size of their student population. (Schools that under report incidents are less likely to end on the list, and it seems that very small schools could be more likely to make the list. It's also worth noting that New York appears to label schools as dangerous more aggressively than other states.)

Four of the new additions are special education schools in District 75. Some of the other schools newly added to the list are known to have problems, such as Jamaica High School, which is currently on the city's list of Impact Schools as well. But we're perplexed about the inclusion of others, such as PS 47 American Sign Language School, that don't have a reputation as being particularly dangerous.

For being so obsessed with data, the state and the DOE don't seem particularly able to figure out whether or not schools in the city are safe. Both the content and scope of the state's list are at odds with the DOE's own accounting of school violence -- most of the city's Impact Schools did not make the state's list -- and the state's announcement came just one day after DOE officials announced a "dramatic decrease" in violent crime last year, while the Post today has a graphic showing a large increase in major crimes in schools in the 2005-2006 school year.

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